How to Determine How Much Meat You'll Get Out of a Cow

Beef cattle weight is a product of their breeding and feeding.
Beef cattle weight is a product of their breeding and feeding. (Image: black bullock 3 image by PeteG from

You can quickly determine how much usable meat a cow will yield based on its total living weight. An estimate of the meat yield can be useful when determining the value of beef cattle that is still on the hoof. Meat quantities are estimated by factoring in the average weight lost when unusable material is removed during the butchering process. The yield totals can later be verified when all the meat has been butchered into cuts.

Things You'll Need

  • Livestock platform scale
  • Calculator (optional)

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Lead the cow onto the scale until it is centered on the platform. Record the total weight in pounds.

Calculate the dressing weight by multiplying the total living weight by 55 to 65 percent. Choose a higher percentage in the range if the beef cattle is a leaner breed, the animal has defined musculature, or it was fed a restricted diet that produces leaner meat. The dressing weight, or hanging weight, is the remaining weight of the carcass after the cow has been slaughtered and the head, skin, internal organs and feet have been removed.

Multiply the dressing weight by 75 percent to account for all the weight lost during the trimming process where usable cuts of meat are rendered. The remaining cuts of meat commonly weigh in at 20 to 30 percent of the original weight of the living cow.


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